Wellness trends come and go, but the paleo diet and Whole30® program have real staying power. Both eating plans share a few overlapping food rules, like choosing unprocessed ingredients and nixing dairy and sugar, but there are some key differences, too. Whole30® is a short-term program that lasts approximately 30 days, while going paleo is a long-term lifestyle choice. Keep reading to learn the nuances of the paleo diet versus whole30 program, prep your whole30 shopping list, and brush up on paleo diet rules.
The paleo diet is occasionally referred to as the caveman diet, hunter-gatherer diet, or Stone Age diet. Regardless of how you talk about it, this eating plan focuses on ingredients that were available and consumed by our Neolithic ancestors, like meat, fish, veggies, and fruit. Loren Cordain, Ph.D. is the self-proclaimed founder of paleo’s modern movement, and says “the paleo diet is based upon everyday, modern foods that mimic the food groups of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors.”
The paleo diet is known for being high in protein and fiber and low in sodium and refined sugars. It also restricts carbohydrates that are high on the glycemic index, like potatoes. According to Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), grass-fed beef is often recommended on the paleo diet, which contains more omega-3 fats than conventional beef. Although some paleo advocates have reported losing weight (thanks to eating a nutrient-dense, whole food diet), HSPH believes more research needs to be done before recommending the paleo diet as a reliable approach for long-term weight loss.
Here’s a basic do’s and don’ts list for your paleo meal plan. In general, you’re looking to rely on unprocessed foods that are similar to what was available to our ancestors.
While wholesome, unprocessed foods are paleo approved, the same can’t be said for processed foods or foods that were not present during caveman days. These include:
Our shelves are filled with hundreds of paleo-friendly ingredients, but these are the food staples Thrive Market members love the most.
This bottle of extra virgin olive oil is made from 100% Certified Organic Koroneiki olives from an estate in western Crete. The bright and peppery flavor is ideal for drizzling on roasted fish or making homemade salad dressing.
For curries, drinks, and baked goods, a paleo pantry isn’t complete without a stash of creamy coconut milk.
With 14 grams of protein per serving, skipjack tuna makes a quick and filling lunch. Each filet is sustainably caught and cooked once to help retain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.
With a carton of chicken bone broth at the ready, you can easily enrich soups, stews, and gravies (or just it sip solo). Kettle & Fire’s version is slow-simmered and offers 10 grams of protein per serving.
Primal Kitchen’s mayo is beloved in the paleo community, and it’s easy to see why. This garlic-infused spread lends extra flavor to your dishes and is made with cage-free eggs and avocado oil.
Here’s a paleo-friendly creamer for your coffee or tea—hazelnut will make your beverage extra comforting.
Swap out your traditional flours and add paleo-friendly coconut flour to your pantry. Every serving offers dietary fiber, iron, and protein.
This jar has only one ingredient: organic almonds. Artisana crafts its nut butters in small batches, and while we always enjoy eating it straight off a spoon, almond butter also adds heft to smoothies, creaminess to dipping sauces, and more.
Nutiva’s coconut oil is sourced in Southeast Asia where fresh coconuts are immediately cold-pressed after harvesting. Use this staple for grilling, sautéing, and even DIY beauty treatments.
Not only does a ¼-cup serving deliver 5 grams of protein, but cashews can transform your meals for the better. Use them to thicken soups, make sauces and dips, or create a crust on fish or chicken.
Need paleo breakfast ideas? We’ve got you covered. There’s nothing like a piping hot sweet potato hash to warm up your morning. This dish works with a range of diets and the chicken sausage will help keep you fueled.
Unless you’re vegan or vegetarian, having a freezer lined with containers of homemade bone broth is a must for adding instant depth of flavor to paleo meals like soups and stews.
Paleo dinner recipes can easily mimic your favorite recipes with a few key ingredient swaps. For example, this chowder might look thick and creamy, but there’s no dairy in sight! Learn our secret weapons for cooking up a paleo-friendly soup that’s just as satisfying as the original.
Breakfast, lunch, or dinner in 15 minutes? Bookmark this recipe! Shakshuka is a fast, egg-based dish that’s ready in minutes.
Upgrade burger night with ground lamb, spices, and a minty pistachio pesto. Wrap a patty in lettuce and dinner’s paleo-ready.
Let the Instant Pot help with your next paleo dinner. This chicken is super simple to prepare and extra flavorful thanks to coconut amino sauce, apple cider vinegar, and an entire head of garlic (trust us!).
The Whole30® program is a chance to reset your body for 30 days by eliminating foods that may be problematic (like dairy and beans) before reintroducing them and seeing how your body responds. While watching what you eat is an essential aspect of the program, Whole30® is also about the journey, and you’re encouraged to enjoy the process, join the community for support, and listen to your body’s cues for what it needs, and what makes it feel the best.
Getting to know the Whole30® rules is one of the first steps in successfully launching your program. Guidelines include eliminating ingredients like sugars, grains, and legumes (get our full list below) and increasing healthy fats, vegetables, and high-quality proteins. Technically, you only have to stick with the guidelines for 30 days, and how you move forward again is completely up to you. Some people enjoy using Whole30® as a reset once or twice during the year, while others enjoy the benefits so much that they stick with the food guidelines more long-term.
During the program, put these foods on your Whole30® grocery list:
While following the Whole30® program, you’ll be eating foods that offer vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Although few studies have been conducted, it’s believed Whole30® may help stabilize blood sugar levels (thanks to all the whole foods). Getting better sleep is another positive side effect many people report—studies suggest that limiting processed foods and sugars may improve sleep quality. Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to experiment with Whole30® is creating a better relationship with food. While some people experience weight loss, it’s not the goal. Whole30® is more interested in learning what ingredients make you feel your best and give you more energy—not focusing on what the scale says.
Before you jump in, take some time to meal plan and get your pantry Whole30® ready.
This organic ketchup adds a kick to anything you make, and only has 1g of sugar per serving.
Dinner will taste even better when you marinate fish, veggies, or chicken with a cooking sauce from The New Primal. It’s okay for Whole30® because it’s free of soy, dairy, oil, or added sugar.
This dressing is made with avocado oil (a favorite Whole30® ingredient) plus onion powder, balsamic vinegar, and oregano.
Dinner will be ready in minutes when this Thai sauce is on hand. It’s made with almonds, red curry paste, tamarind juice, and coconut milk—perfect for a quick and easy stir-fry.
Ethically sourced from Mexico, our avocado oil has a high smoke point and works for roasting, sautéing, and baking. Also, you can whip up a tasty Whole30® salad dressing in minutes.
Take tuna salad to new heights with a can of fish that offers 14g of protein. Safe Catch is known for having some of the most rigorous testing programs in the industry (and the lowest mercury levels to boot).
Need a snack? Chomp on a grass-fed beef stick that’ll help keep you full with 9g of protein, plus each bite is the perfect combo of smoky and sweet.
If you don’t want to miss out on ranch dressing, switch to Primal Kitchen’s version made with avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, and herbs.
Make it a taco night to remember with Primal Palate’s bold seasoning. This blend combines paprika, black pepper, cumin, and chipotle for kick.
A jar of Tessamae’s BBQ sauce makes everything better—think shredded chicken, pork taco filling, or braised short ribs.
Whole30® meal prep inspiration is here! Our blog has plenty of easy Whole30® recipes, but these are some of our favorite dishes to get you started.
This simple sheet pan dinner comes straight from the Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook Just toss shrimp and broccoli with sesame oil and red pepper flakes before roasting everything in the oven.
Here’s a double recipe featuring baby back ribs with either a dry rub or a wet sauce. We’ll leave it to you to decide which one to try first, but they’re both Whole30®-compliant so you can’t go wrong.
Hawaiian comfort food gets a Whole30®-spin thanks to cauliflower rice, coconut oil, bone broth, and grass-fed beef.
If you’ve never met a meatloaf recipe that’s Whole30®-compliant, allow us to introduce you to a tender, ketchup-covered dish the whole family will love. Serve it with mashed cauliflower to really drive home the comfort food factor.
Get your slow cooker ready to go, because we’re betting this pot of chicken chili will be a repeat on your weekly Whole30® menu. Coconut cream makes every bite extra silky, and leftovers freeze well for later.
Tuna’s a reliable ingredient when you’re following a Whole30® program, so why not play around with global flavors? This video has three ways to enjoy tuna salad—and none of them are boring.
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